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‘We Shall Overcome’: E. Michael Harrington on Freeing a Civil Rights Song to Public Domain

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E. Michael Harrington—a course author for Berklee Online’s new Master of Arts in Music Business degree—has worked as a consultant and expert witness in hundreds of music copyright matters including cases involving Lady Gaga, T-Pain, T.I.,  Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and Mariah Carey.  In this video, Dr. Harrington tells the tale of bringing the Civil Rights-era anthem, “We Shall Overcome” into the public domain. Working with attorneys Randall Newman and Mark Rifkin—the attorneys who freed “Happy Birthday” into the public domain—they pointed to the song’s origin from a time before Beethoven (who had as much to do with “We Shall Overcome” as Pete Seeger!) and convinced the court that music publishers Ludlow Music and the Richmond Organization had no valid claim to owning the copyright of the song.

E. Michael Harrington/Photo by John Davenport

About the Master Track Series: Berklee Online is celebrating the instructors of their brand new master’s degree programs with a series of animated videos. The videos will roll over the next few months as the application deadline approaches for the two master’s degree programs: a Master of Music in Music Production and Master of Arts in Music Business. This video series not only shares compelling stories but also shines a spotlight on these Berklee instructors who have made great contributions to the music industry. Their talent, experience, and knowledge is priceless and is now accessible to post-graduate students accepted into Berklee Online’s master’s degree programs. To apply, visit online.berklee.edu/apply.

About
Berklee Online is the online extension school of Berklee College of Music, delivering access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world. Berklee Online's award-winning online courses, multi-course certificate programs, and Bachelor of Professional Studies degree are accredited and taught by the college's world-renowned faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to people interested in music and working in the music industry.
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